In a recent talent development workshop, I was given an interesting homework assignment. For one week, I was asked to listen to then write down my speech patterns in a journal. The purpose of the assignment was to become more mindful of what I said and how I said it.
It is now halfway through the week and halfway through the assignment. While I have not written down everything I should have in my journal, the assignment’s purpose has been realized as a truly humbling experience. During the past few days I’ve had a chance to really listen to my speech patterns. It did not take very long to discover that I did not always like what I heard myself say much less how I said it. As a result of this exercise, I learned 7 important lessons about interpersonal communications; lessons I would like to pay forward:
- Be nice. As my mother used to say, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything” because no matter what you say or how you say it, your message always reveals your true thoughts and attitudes.
- You DO have an effect on others. Whether you choose to admit it, your words DO have an impact – positive or negative – on others; and more than you really care to know! In fact, your words not only effect the person you communicate them to, but what you say has a ripple effect, touching all those that person interacts with afterwards. A true communicator is mindful of the effect their words have and adjust those words accordingly.
- Be positive. Mindful communication goes beyond getting your message across, or clarifying the thoughts of others; it leaves people feeling better than they did prior to receiving it.
- Do not assume you are understood. How many times have relationships failed because a shared message was misunderstood? Messages are often misunderstood due to lack of detail; a misused or misplaced word; or a vague or incomplete thought resulting in misinterpretation or multiple interpretations. All add up to a distorted message being received.
- Know when to remain silent. Native Americans are very wise in that they value silence. They know that silence allows for mindful listening and reflection. Rather than rambling on incessantly about things with little or no value, take time out. Try staying silent with the purpose of truly reflecting on the words of others. The best communicator is one who is secure enough to know when they have little to say.
- Do not interrupt. It has been said that “There is no such thing as conversation… only intersecting monologues.” It is rare to see people listening with complete openness and non-judgment until another has stopped speaking. Even rarer is to hear someone ask for clarification to aid understanding. The mark of a true communicator is one who is a good listener; someone who holds back his/her own thoughts until they have listened to the thoughts of others.
- Do not gossip. Not only is gossip idle chatter, but it serves no real purpose other than to make yourself feel better at another person’s expense. If you hear others gossip, simply disengage yourself: do not reply, do not allow yourself to be drawn in, and most of all… never ever do it yourself.
Most of all, as a result of my most recent homework assignment, I learned that effective interpersonal communications does not occur overnight; it is in fact, a masterpiece in progress. As much-needed time is taken to reflect on what to say and how to present it, thoughts, feelings, speech patterns, and physical connections start to change. With this change, the barriers that get in the way of trust break down, paving the way for more truly intimate relationships that work.
Remember … touch a life today “The Little Way” by following the lead and need of others. Also, if you ever thought to yourself, “I wish my customers, knew…”, then be sure to visit White Light Communications at http://www.tothewhitelight.com.